This blog is where I post up various half-baked ideas that I have.

Recent Posts

22 September 2022

Rust 2024...the year of everywhere?

I’ve been thinking about what “Rust 2024” will look like lately. I don’t really mean the edition itself — but more like, what will Rust feel like after we’ve finished up the next few years of work? I think the answer is that Rust 2024 is going to be the year of “everywhere”. Let me explain what I mean. Up until now, Rust has had a lot of nice features, but they only work sometimes. By the time 2024 rolls around, they’re going to work everywhere that you want to use them, and I think that’s going to make a big difference in how Rust feels.

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21 September 2022

Dyn async traits, part 9: call-site selection

After my last post on dyn async traits, some folks pointed out that I was overlooking a seemingly obvious possibility. Why not have the choice of how to manage the future be made at the call site? It’s true, I had largely dismissed that alternative, but it’s worth consideration. This post is going to explore what it would take to get call-site-based dispatch working, and what the ergonomics might look like. I think it’s actually fairly appealing, though it has some limitations.

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19 September 2022

What I meant by the "soul of Rust"

Re-reading my previous post, I felt I should clarify why I called it the “soul of Rust”. The soul of Rust, to my mind, is definitely not being explicit about allocation. Rather, it’s about the struggle between a few key values — especially productivity and versatility1 in tension with transparency. Rust’s goal has always been to feel like a high-level but with the performance and control of a low-level one. Oftentimes, we are able to find a “third way” that removes the tradeoff, solving both goals pretty well. But finding those “third ways” takes time — and sometimes we just have to accept a certain hit to one value or another for the time being to make progress. It’s exactly at these times, when we have to make a difficult call, that questions about the “soul of Rust” starts to come into play. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, so I thought I would write a post that expands on the role of transparency in Rust, and some of the tensions that arise around it.

  1. I didn’t write about versatility in my original post: instead I focused on the hit to productivity. But as I think about it now, versatility is really what’s at play here — versatility really meant that Rust was useful for high-level things and low-level things, and I think that requiring an explicit dyn adaptor is unquestionably a hit against being high-level. Interestingly, I put versatility after transparency in the list, meaning that it was lower priority, and that seems to back up the decision to have some kind of explicit adaptor. 

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18 September 2022

Dyn async traits, part 8: the soul of Rust

In the last few months, Tyler Mandry and I have been circulating a “User’s Guide from the Future” that describes our current proposed design for async functions in traits. In this blog post, I want to deep dive on one aspect of that proposal: how to handle dynamic dispatch. My goal here is to explore the space a bit and also to address one particularly tricky topic: how explicit do we have to be about the possibility of allocation? This is a tricky topic, and one that gets at that core question: what is the soul of Rust?

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18 August 2022

Come contribute to Salsa 2022!

Have you heard of the Salsa project? Salsa is a library for incremental computation – it’s used by rust-analyzer, for example, to stay responsive as you type into your IDE (we have also discussed using it in rustc, though more work is needed there). We are in the midst of a big push right now to develop and release Salsa 2022, a major new revision to the API that will make Salsa far more natural to use. I’m writing this blog post both to advertise that ongoing work and to put out a call for contribution. Salsa doesn’t yet have a large group of maintainers, and I would like to fix that. If you’ve been looking for an open source project to try and get involved in, maybe take a look at our Salsa 2022 tracking issue and see if there is an issue you’d like to tackle?

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27 June 2022

Many modes: a GATs pattern

As some of you may know, on May 4th Jack Huey opened a PR to stabilize an initial version of generic associated types. The current version is at best an MVP: the compiler support is limited, resulting in unnecessary errors, and the syntax is limited, making code that uses GATs much more verbose than I’d like. Nonetheless, I’m super excited, since GATs unlock a lot of interesting use cases, and we can continue to smooth out the rough edges over time. However, folks on the thread have raised some strong concerns about GAT stabilization, including asking whether GATs are worth including in the language at all. The fear is that they make Rust the language too complex, and that it would be better to just use them as an internal building block for other, more accessible features (like async functions and [return position impl trait in traits][RPITIT]). In response to this concern, a number of people have posted about how they are using GATs. I recently took some time to deep dive into these comments and to write about some of the patterns that I found there, including a pattern I am calling the “many modes” pattern, which comes from the chumsky parser combinator library. I posted about this pattern on the thread, but I thought I would cross-post my write-up here to the blog as well, because I think it’s of general interest.

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